Photo Credit: Victor Buklis
What it’s like to join a club during your first year
Tannaaz Zaraineh, Features Editor
If you’ve gotten this far in our special Orientation issue and are liking it, maybe you’re thinking about how you can participate and join the newspaper team. The Mike is always looking for new writers. The only requirement is being enthusiastic in honing your craft (and being a U of T student, so that’s two requirements).
I remember when I started writing for The Mike during my first year. I had previous journalistic experience from high school, but my portfolio was limited in types of articles and content. Once I started university, I could only think about how these were two different realms. I felt that whatever I wrote needed to be drastically improved from before. And it certainly didn’t help that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and anything I produce must reach my personal standards.
I created so much imaginary pressure for my first article. I wanted it to be flawless for sentimentality’s sake, so that ten years later I could reminisce about my wonderful work at U of T. I decided to write a review for BROCKHAMPTON’s GINGER album. At the time, I absolutely loved them, so as a reasonable fan, I believed I had to write the ultimate review. But I had no clue on how to properly structure it! My paragraphs were too chunky, each song had its own winding essay, and I was feeling overwhelmed on how to reach the given deadline. In hindsight, I could have asked for help, but I had my eyes set on reaching the deadline no matter what.
So, I had reached over 1000 words and wasn’t finished either. I was sitting on my friend’s couch at her apartment panicking over this article and she was trying to suggest ways to fix it. I just kept writing and rewriting, circling around the dread of shortening it. The Arts section wasn’t a place to normally submit something of that length, and I didn’t know how I wrote that much—it just occurred naturally. I knew I had to shorten it, and it was a frustrating experience.
It’s still on the website and if you read it, you might notice the last paragraph sounds rushed. That’s because I tried to cram a few paragraphs worth of rambling into one. My review was published in print (this was before COVID), which was exciting. I concluded it was a learning experience, and it honestly helped me understand how to write better articles that are well-structured and equally entertaining. Thankfully, I now know how to write interesting and legible reviews without rambling too much. I was determined to continue sharpening my skills and later became a Staff Writer, then the Lifestyle Editor, and now the Features Editor! All are amazing positions, and each offers something new to learn about writing, editing, working on a team, and staying organized, while maintaining a social life and staying on top of schoolwork. Joining The Mike has been a rewarding experience for me. Over time, my writing has improved, my style has developed, and I feel more confident in my skills.
So, if you are imagining yourself on the team next year, I suggest writing for The Mike to gain some familiarity and using that experience to apply for higher positions once applications open near the end of the school year. You need to write three articles during the year to obtain Staff Writer status, but if you just want to write for fun and don’t feel compelled to apply for anything later, this number can be less!
During Orientation week, there will be a club fair hosted by the University of Toronto Students’ Union. St. Mike’s will have one too during the first few weeks of school where you can sign up in person for emails from sections of your choice. Visit our website, www.readthemike.com, click “Get Involved” and then “Write for Us!” There, you’ll see a link to sign up for emails. These emails will include a list of pitches you can choose from. Selecting pitches is on a first come first served basis. The Mike publishes bi-weekly, so you have plenty of time to write while studying or spending time on your hobbies. If you have any title that’s not “Contributor” you can get the experience added to your CCR (Co-Curricular Record), which is a great asset for experiential learning or work outside of the college.
You can also follow The Mike on Instagram @readthemike and keep an eye out for future in-person events and upcoming news related to the paper.
Joining a club, especially one that fulfils your need to socialize and improve in a hobby you’re interested in, is extremely important when you start university. And joining The Mike has been one experience I definitely don’t regret. I hope to see your name on the mailing list. Happy Orientation, and welcome to St. Mike’s!